Celtics

Marcus Smart the peacemaker? That's the story to Brad Stevens

Marcus Smart the peacemaker? That's the story to Brad Stevens

ORLANDO — Celtics coach Brad Stevens said we were all focused on the wrong guys when Marcus Morris and Jaylen Brown got into a flareup on the Boston bench during Thursday’s loss in Miami.

"I looked at it as, everyone else was watching Marcus Morris and Jaylen, how about [Marcus] Smart breaking it up?” said Stevens. "Talk about growth, holy smokes, I thought he’d be in the middle of one of those. That was pretty good. You guys all looked at it as a negative, I could not believe what I was seeing.”

Stevens downplayed the incident between Morris and Brown, which was captured on video by a fan near the Boston bench and spread widely on social media. Smart stepped in front of Brown to prevent further escalation as Morris shoved Brown while frustrated by Brown’s lack of effort in getting back on defense a short time before the timeout.

"I think when you’re part of a team for 82 games, it’s not that big of a deal,” said Stevens. "I mean, been through a lot of different teams, some of which have taken time to become a team, some of which have been a team from Day 1, and they’ve all had moments like that at one time or another whether the cameras were on or not.”

Smart has had his share of heated moments on the bench, including when he got into an argument with assistant coaches and was removed from the bench during a loss in Washington back in January 2017.

Smart, the longest-tenured member of the Celtics, has grown into a leadership role, largely with his effort level on the court.

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Kyrie Irving's critical comments were justified, explains Celtics legend

Kyrie Irving's critical comments were justified, explains Celtics legend

Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving was critical of the team's younger players after a recent loss to the Orlando Magic, and one Celtic legend thinks the veteran point guard's comments were justified. 

Paul Pierce, who spent 15 years with the Celtics and helped deliver Boston a championship in 2008, explained Tuesday on ESPN's "The Jump" why he had no issues with Irving's comments. 

“However he has to do it to wake them up,” Pierce said. “Kyrie understands what it takes to win a championship, so he’s trying to show them there’s an everyday process to this.

“When I won a championship and we came back the next year, it was like, ‘don’t get bored with the process’ or ‘understand what the process is.’ And that’s what he’s trying to teach them. And that’s why they’re inconsistent, because they don’t understand that. It doesn’t start just on the court during games. It’s in practice, it’s the little things … It’s the little things that they have to follow — the details that it’s going to take for them to win a championship, and Kyrie’s trying to show them that.”

The Celtics have not met expectations so far this season and enter Wednesday's showdown against the Toronto Raptors with a 25-17 record. A lot of the frustration involving this team stems from its inconsistency. The C's have lost three consecutive games, but won four straight games before that. An eight-game win streak in December was followed by a three-game skid.

The Celtics' season ultimately will be judged on their playoff run, but they won't enjoy much success in April, May or June unless they find an identity and every player buys in. Irving, as one of the most experienced players on the team and one of two Celtics with a championship ring, is the right man to lead that process.

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Terry Rozier gets real about Kyrie Irving's criticism of Celtics

Terry Rozier gets real about Kyrie Irving's criticism of Celtics

We'll say one thing about the 2018-19 Boston Celtics: They're not afraid to speak their minds.

Kyrie Irving certainly did so Saturday night when he seemed to call out the Celtics' young players after a loss to the Orlando Magic. We've since heard from a few of those young players, with Jayson Tatum endorsing Irving's message and Jaylen Brown perhaps suggesting Kyrie tone it down a bit.

Following Monday's loss to the Nets in Brooklyn, Irving's backup, Terry Rozier, chimed in.

“Kyrie said a lot after the last game (against Orlando) and it was probably stuff that people didn’t want to hear," Rozier told Yahoo Sports' Vincent Goodwill. “But it’s showing.”

The 24-year-old also admitted it's been a challenge for players like himself, Tatum and Brown to adapt to roles that were larger late last season when Irving and Gordon Hayward were out due to injury, even suggesting the Celtics could be "too talented."

"I don’t think we’ve all been on a team like this," Rozier said. "Young guys who can play, guys who did things in their career, the group that was together last year, then you bring Kyrie and Hayward back, it’s a lot with it."

And if you ask Rozier, the impromptu meetings (led mostly by Irving) to iron out these issues haven't always been beneficial.

"I feel like we have them talks throughout the season, but it didn’t turn out that good," Rozier added. "You see guys get into it with each other, but that’s part of the game. You gotta be real with each other."

The Celtics still have time to figure things out, of course. Rozier admitted the Celtics needed to hear Irving's critique, which the All-Star point guard actually walked back before Monday's game in Brooklyn.

"Sometimes I may come off and say things, never to question my teammates in public like that ever again," Irving told ESPN.com's Ian Begley. "I just want to win so bad."

Boston hasn't done much winning of late, falling to seven games behind the Eastern Conference-leading Toronto Raptors after their third straight loss. But now would be a good time to start: The C's play seven of their next eight games at home, starting Wednesday against the Raptors.

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